Back when Leon Loza started hop farming, there weren’t all that many breweries in the U.S. Fast forward to today, and there are more than 5,000 breweries specializing in craft beer. Many of those brewers have something in common: they get their hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington state and from places like Loza Farms.
Today, this fertile and sun-drenched valley, and the surrounding regions, produce more hops than any other place on earth. It’s estimated that 75 percent of all hops grown in the U.S. come from the Yakima Valley.
Harvest season starts sometime in August and ends in September. On Loza Farms in Wapato, Washington, plants packed with cone-shaped, lupulin coated hops climb effortlessly up enormous man-made trellises that stretch out along field after field.
It’s an amazing sight. One that Leon Loza never finds boring.
“We have 360 acres of hops in all varieties on our farm,” Leon explained, walking along a particularly picture-friendly stretch of hops. “We grow, harvest, pack, and ship all varieties of hops from our farm.”
As a young boy, Loza loaded trucks in Mexico, but he knew he wanted more. He wanted to live the American dream. Over the years, he did what he could to get work in the U.S., traveling to the Yakima Valley in 1976, and working for Stanley Brulotte, who owned a hop farm in the region.
Over the next several decades, Leon learned all there was to know about hop farming. He got married, became a U.S. citizen, had kids, and then asked his employer to rent him a hay field adjacent to the hop farm.
Leon worked hard, put in extra hours driving truck, and became an invaluable member of the owner’s hop business.
In 2004, both Mr. and Ms. Brulotte passed away leaving the hop farm in limbo.
Thankfully, Loza found a way to buy the farm, and has since kept his family and crew busy.
“People need jobs,” Leon said with a smile. “Everybody that works here helps keep the farm going.”
For Leon, that is the American dream.
“I never thought I’d live the American dream. I just worked for what I needed,” he said. “The American dream is the opportunity to keep going for yourself, for your family, and for others. I depend on and trust my workers, and they depend on me.”
Leon and his family enjoy being Coastal shoppers, and know they’ll find exactly what they need every time they walk into their nearby store.
“Coastal has great people,” Leon added. “I’ve known some of the kids that work there since they were little. We’re all neighbors out here. I know I can trust Coastal to have what I need and treat me and my family right.”
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At Coastal, we’re honored to serve farmers, ranchers, backyard gardeners, and anyone living the country lifestyle. Stop by your Northwest owned and operated Coastal store today where you’ll find footwear, pet food and treats, automotive equipment, horse tack, workwear, fashion clothing, chicken supplies, and a lot more.